Unofficial Notes from

International Conferences for Clergy Questions And Answers


ICC - Questions And Answers - Blood Atonement

QUESTION: 1. What was the purpose of the shedding of Jesus' blood (as complete as possible)?

ANSWER: See Isa. 53; Matt. 20:28, 26:28; Gal. 1:3,4, 3:13, ; Rom. 3:24-26, 4:25, 5:1-21; 1Thes. 1:10, 5:9,10; Heb. 1:3, 2:9,17, 9:12-15, 25, 26, 10:1-20 12:24, 13:12, 20, 21; 1John 1:7, 2:2, 5:6, 3:5, 4:10, 5:6; Rev. 1:5, 5:6,9, 7:14, 12:11; John 1:29, 6:51, 11:49-51; Eph. 1:7, 2:13-17, 5:2; 1Peter 2:24; Luke 22:20, 24:46,47; 1Cor. 1:23, 15:3; 2Cor. 5:18,19,21; Col. 1:14, 1:20-22; Zech. 13:1;

QUESTION: 2. If Christ had not died the first time and had set up His Kingdom on Earth, how would the sins that were committed before his coming have been atoned for? For Christ had to die on the cross to atone for all sins past, present, and future. Also, is everything in the Bible symbolic? Is the Bible symbolic?

ANSWER: Christ had to shed blood to atone because of the faithlessness of Israel. However, the Old Testament blood sacrificial system is declared by God to be less preferred and superseded by faith (Hosea 6:6, and 1Samuel 15:22). God desires mercy and acknowledgement of God rather than blood. Therefore, if Israel had shown faith in Jesus, the condition of faith would have superseded the necessity of blood "under the law". That is why we see forgiveness bequeathed to the sinner when ever that condition was present (Luke 5:22, 7:27) and without the shedding of blood. That the tradition of blood atonement is not an Old Testament absolute is underscored by Hebrews 9:22..."almost by blood, all things are cleansed". Therefore, the forgiveness of sins would have been bequeathed in the same vicarious way as mentioned in Hebrews 11:39-40.

The Bible is many things, it is history, literature, poetry, prophesy...some of it is symbolic, all of it is important.

QUESTION: 3. Are you saying men would never have died if they had accepted Jesus as the Christ? If so, what about the scripture in 1Cor. 15:50 that says "flesh and blood can not inherit the Kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption?

ANSWER: The reason flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom is because we still await the redemption of our bodies (see Romans 8:23). This is the future glory we await in Christ's Second Coming. Scripture gives us a clear vision of the Kingdoms visible, earthly manifestation (see Isa.2:4, 9:5; Psalms 72:11). We are also all awaiting the New Heaven and New Earth promised to us in Rev. 21:1. Had Israel believed in Jesus, all these would have been fulfilled at that time.

QUESTION: 4. If the Kingdom had been established at His first coming, where would the atonement for sin come from? Where would the hope for your eternal salvation rest, if not on the Cross work of Jesus Christ?

ANSWER: In the same Jesus and in relationship of faith and love in Him. Jesus had to atone by blood because there was no faith in Him. god indicates in Hosea 6:6, 1Samuel 15:22, Micah 6:6-8, Prov. 16:6 that the requirement for blood is superseded by the more preferred condition of faith in Israel. Jesus died to break the curse in the law (Gal 3:13) and the curse was invoked because of faithlessness. If they had faith, the curse would not have been invoked and the law requirement for blood would be suspended. Remember Hebrews 9:22 states "almost" all things are required to be atoned for by blood. Blood atonement, even in the Old Testament, is not an absolute tradition..."almost" is not absolute. That being said, however, and in view of the irrevocable fact of Israel's faithlessness in Christ Jesus, it is the shed blood of Christ that effected atonement for our sins.

QUESTION: 5. If all sin has a consequence, what is the basis of repentance and forgiveness? Past and present, is it the shed blood of Christ?

ANSWER: The basis of forgiveness past and present is the shed blood of Christ. The basis in the future will be the completion of salvation at His Second Coming (Hebrews 9:28, 1Peter 1:5, Acts 3:21, Rev. 21:1).

QUESTION: 6. If you say that Hebrews 9:22 says that atonement can be made in some case without blood, then why did the Lord say in Leviticus 17:11 "...for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul."?

ANSWER: Blood makes atonement. I agree with Leviticus 17:11. But neither is it saying that blood is the sole agent of atonement. If it were, God would not express a higher preference for faith over the tradition of blood atonement in Hosea 6:6 and in 1Samuel 15:22. Also we see other ways to atone for sin in the Old Testament other than blood atonement as well as other ways to confirm a covenant (other than with blood). The blood of Jesus became the required agent to atonement because Israel had no faith.

QUESTION: 7. Atonement and forgiveness of the Son must be by blood in the Old Testament. There were peace offerings and thanks offerings which consisted of fruits of the field, but a sin offering must be made through the blood of the sacrificial animal.

ANSWER: Blood is not the sole requirement for atonement even in the Old Testament and thus Hebrews 9:22 must qualify with "almost". Secondly, the requirement for blood is superseded by faith (Hosea 6:6, 1Samuel 15:22, Micah 6:6-8, Prov. 16:6), thirdly, faith in Christ was not "under the law" for Jesus transcended the law.

QUESTION: 8. Adam sinned in Eden, Eve was deceived. The sacrificial system, demonstrating how the problem of sin would be solved, was established outside of the Garden. Each sacrificial lamb showed Adam and his descendants that a "Lamb of God" would eventually save them or redeem them. Thus, Hebrews 9:22 and Rev. 13:8 are valid. Jesus had to die or Adam and Eve and those ancient ones were given an incorrect symbol by God.

ANSWER: Jesus as the Lamb of God does not absolutely imply the course of blood atonement. You will note that Jesus refers to all believers as His "lambs". The lamb is a symbol of absolute obedience and innocence. With regard to Hebrews 9:22, the sentence structure of the original Greek text places the word "almost" as a qualifier for the blood. It indicates that blood atonement in the Old Testament is not an absolute tradition or the sole preferred process of atonement. We see evidence of this in Hosea 6:6, Prov. 16:6, Lev. 16:10, 1Sam. 15:22. By the way, blood as a covenant ratifier is also not the sole way of covenant ratification in the Old Testament. Covenants could be ratified in a number of ways; building a monument, having a feast, salting, loosing the shoe, the giving of gifts etc.

Modern exegesis of Rev. 13:8 cast serious doubts upon the rendering which attaches the phrase "from the foundations of the world" should be properly attached to "all the names" and not to the "Lamb that was slain". If you'll look at Rev. 17:8, the phrase appears again, but this time "the Lamb who was slain" is not mentioned. If "from the foundation of the world" was describing the lamb, it should not appear also, but it does appear and it is describing the "names" and not the Lamb. RSV has the proper rendering, the NIV has it as a footnote. All in all, it would not be enough for me to hang a whole doctrine on and in the process deny the overwhelming scriptural evidence, spoken by God to His people, that states, in fact, they, by faith or faithlessness will play a role in their destiny

All of this being said, once Israel's lack of faith in Jesus was fact, beginning in the last year of His ministry, the precious blood of Christ became the only means of atonement for man. How much more deep should our repentance be in the knowledge that had we only done our part, our beloved Lord would not have had to go the way of humiliation on Calvary.

QUESTION: 9. You said that the Old Testament tradition of blood atonement was not absolute and you point to Hebrew 9:22 which says that "almost" all things are by blood atoned for. I disagree. "Almost all things" means that the shedding of blood would not be sufficient for some things, such as murder. Without blood there can be no atonement!

ANSWER: I am afraid I'll have to disagree with you on your interpretation of Hebrew 9:22. It is not declaring a limitation to the atoning quality of the blood, it is stating that "nearly everything" is required by the law to be atoned for by blood. Therefore there are a few things where atonement is accomplished without blood, and where the requirement, under law, for blood does not apply. Thus, we see examples of atonement without blood: Leviticus 16:10 and Proverbs 16:6, and we see God's stated preference over the tradition of blood atonement: Hosea 6:6, Micah 6:7-8, 1Sam.15:22. We see also, at the time of Jesus, that faith superseded the requirement for blood: Luke 5:20 and 7:47. If Hebrews 9:22 is absolute, how could Jesus give forgiveness if there is no forgiveness until the shedding of blood?

Answer: Faith supersedes the requirement for blood. Jesus died to break the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13) that curse was invoked because of the failure of the people to heed Elijah (Mal. 4:4-5). The people failed to heed Elijah because Elijah (John) denied that he was the Elijah (John 1:21). But you and I can agree; That it is the shed blood of Christ that serves as the atoning agent for us all (including murderers)!

QUESTION: 10. "Almost all things are purged by blood" (Hebrews 9:22) is clearly indicating that there are some things (sins) not purged by blood, i.e. a reprobate mind, a son of perdition, a blasphemous person against the spirit of God.

ANSWER: According to the sentence structure of the original Greek text, "almost" is a qualifier for the blood, not for the "things" that can be purified by blood. The point is that atonement by blood in not the sole process of atonement. This of course is supported by scripture: Leviticus 16:10, Proverbs 16:6, Hosea 6:6, 1Samuel 15:22. However, after the fact of Israel's faithlessness in Christ, from the last year of his ministry the shedding of His blood became the only way we could receive atonement.

QUESTION: 11. In Hebrews 9:22, "almost all things being sanctified by blood" is used to show the necessity of the death of Christ to establish the New Covenant just as there was blood used to validate the Old Covenant. You use the scripture exactly opposite to the purpose for which it was written. Why?

ANSWER: Well, first try to understand what in fact we are saying. You are confusing two traditions here, the tradition of atonement and the tradition of confirming a covenant. Let me first say that, indeed it was the blood of Christ that fulfilled both atonement and the confirming of the New Covenant. It would be, however, and error to say that the only tradition of atonement and confirming a covenant is by blood. This simply is not so. Covenants could be confirmed in a variety of ways, by giving the hand, loosing the shoe, writing and sealing, giving presents, making feasts, erecting a monument, salting, taking an oath etc., as well as offering a blood sacrifice. Hebrews 9:22 is not referring to the ratifying of a covenant but the atoning for sin, which is an entirely separate function of the blood. Hebrews 9:22 indicates that blood atonement, in fact, is not absolute by the rendering of the word "almost". This is supported by the evidence of scripture that there were other ways for the atonement of sin to take place; Leviticus 16:10, Hosea 6:6, 1Samuel 15:22, Proverbs 16:6. That being said, however, after the faithlessness of Israel was an established fact, the only way for sin to be atoned and the covenant confirmed is through the precious blood of Jesus Christ.

QUESTION: 12. How could the gentile be saved, if the Jews would have accepted the Messiah. If the Jews had accepted Jesus, there would have been no need for Jesus to die and without the shedding of blood there is not remission of sin.

ANSWER: Gentiles would be saved in the same way as the woman in Luke 7:44-48?

QUESTION: 13. Was it the blood of the animals killed which atoned for Adam's sins or just the killing of various animals to please God?

ANSWER: 1Samuel 15:22 states: "Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice and to heed is better than the fat of rams."

God was searching for the condition of faith in the heart of Abel. That condition was established through the faithful offering he made. It s always the condition of faith that takes precedence over blood sacrifice.

QUESTION: 14. At what point is forgiveness initiated?

ANSWER: Forgiveness is initiated at the conclusion of the atonement course on accord with God's dispensational requirements and benefits that are markedly different as we pass from the age of law into the age of grace. We should also make a distinction between the atoning work of Christ at Calvary and the regenerative work of Christ on the day of Pentecost.

QUESTION: 15. What does the scripture mean by "slain from the foundations of the world" (Rev. 13:8) in light of the teaching that Jesus did not come to die?

ANSWER: Modern exegesis cast serious doubts upon the aforementioned rendering (see RVS, NIV) also compare with Rev. 17:8...the lamb who is slain is dropped, but the prepositional phrase "from the foundation of the world" remains, indication again that the term should be affixed to "the names" and not "the lamb".

Indeed otherwise the whole of Jewish history and the expression of the law covenant becomes superfluous.

Any prediction on the part of God does not override the potential for man to fulfill his responsibility in faith (Jeremiah 18:7) because God's primary will is that man obey His word.

QUESTION: 16. Please give me your view of the meaning of this Biblical proclamation, "worthy is the lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world".

ANSWER: I believe you are confusing Rev. 5:12 with Rev. 13:8. Rev. 13:8 mentions the Lamb as being slain from the foundations of the world. However, modern and more reliable research into the original Greek manuscripts casts serious doubts as to the traditional rendering of the aforementioned scripture. A more accurate rendering would be "all whose names have not been written from the foundation of the world belonging to the lamb that was slain." So that the prepositional phrase is actually affixed (and is defining) the "names" and not "the Lamb". If you compare Rev. 13:8 with Rev. 17:8, you will see it in it's proper form. Here the "names" are clearly the object of "from the foundation of the world". In this context "the Lamb" does not appear and , therefore, if "from the foundations of the world" are defining the lamb of Rev.13:8 and not "the names" then the phrase should not appear the second time with the names without the Lamb also appearing. The RSV has Rev. 13:8 in it's proper form and the NIV has it listed as a footnote. All in all, it requires us to consider it within the context of other clearer scripture. The overwhelming evidence of Old Testament history is that Israel's destiny was determined by their faithlessness in Christ when He appeared and thus Matt. 16:21 "from that time" (the last year of His ministry) He began to teach about the cross.

QUESTION: 17. Was the blood of Jesus necessary to enforce the forgiveness of sins for those before His time? If not, what about Hebrews 10:11..."and every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins."?

ANSWER: Again, had Israel believed in Jesus, Israel could have received the forgiveness of sins. The saints of the past would link to that forgiveness in the same way they are linked to the forgiveness which comes through the blood (see Hebrews 11:39-40).

QUESTION: 18. How can you say that if the Chosen People had received Jesus the need for the shed blood of Christ would not be invoked, especially in view of Hebrews 9:22 which states..."without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin"?

ANSWER: You are overlooking a very important part of Hebrews 9:22 which states..."and almost all things are purged by blood; and without the shedding of blood is no remission of sin." What all of Hebrews 9:22 is saying is that there is not remission, except by blood, for those things required under law to be cleansed by blood. The "almost" doesn't mean something cannot be cleansed by blood, but rather, that the law requirement for blood atonement is not absolute in all cases and thus, we see scripture such as Hosea 6:6, 1Samuel 15:22, Micah 6:7-8 which stress the superior quality of belief in Jesus, therefore, would have superseded the law requirement of blood. In that the condition of belief was not found, Jesus, in order to satisfy the requirements, had to shed His blood. Hebrews 9:22 would not contradict this view.

QUESTION: 19. Because of the first man's sin, sin entered into the world and death by sin. David said: "I was born in sin and shaped in iniquity". Paul said: "Without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sin." In view of this, how can you say then there would be no need for a blood sacrifice if they just believe?

ANSWER: Well lets put it another way... When Jesus called for repentance, do you believe He knew it was not going to come and that there was no possibility for it to come? If really there was no possibility for Israel to believe, why did God promise blessing to them "if" they did believe, did God forget there was no possibility for this? Why did Jesus pray for laborers for the harvest, if He knew there was to be no harvest in Israel. Why did Jesus say He wanted to gather the people together as a hen gathers her brood if in fact this was not supposed to happen. Why was Jesus sorrowing in Gethsemene? Why did He pray not to go to the cross (let this cup pass from me). How did Jesus forgive the sin of those who had faith in Him? Where they actually not forgiven in that very moment? Did Jesus not actually have the authority to do that? If He did, what would have happened if all of Israel had repented to Him and washed His feet with their tears begging His forgiveness? Why did Jesus tell His apostles not to go to the Gentiles, for He had come only for the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

In the absence of the faith of Israel, Christ's blood was the only acceptable offering for sin. Gal. 3:13 Jesus died to break the curse of the law. Why was that curse invoked? "If" faith, then Blessing. "If" no faith, curse.

The faithless and wicked generation requires a sign...the sign that will be given will be the sign of Jonah (his death and resurrection)...a faithful generation would not need this sign.


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